Recently it seemed that ISPs were being forced to limit users’ freedoms more and more, with BT’s court-enforced blocking of Newzbin being but one example. While content theft and piracy are genuine concerns, this kind of policing is a slippery slope - especially when many sites tread a grey line.
Now, however, those who were worried by this trend can breathe just a little easier, as the European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that “EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files”.
In other words, the UK’s High Court ruling forcing BT to block access to certain websites (including Newzbin) is essentially unlawful, as national law must operate within the confines of EU directives. Whether ISPs can still implement such measures on their own initiative is another question.
With the Internet being the primary source of information, social exchange and data consumption for so many, it’s an invaluable resource that needs to be protected from exploitation. And while this works both ways, ultimately it’s the freedom of its users that should – and indeed must – take priority.
So are you happy with this development or were you cheering the BT precedent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.